Stowe School

Stowe School is a selective independent school in Stowe, Buckinghamshire, England. It opened on 11 May 1923, initially with 99 schoolboys, and with J. F. Roxburgh as the first headmaster. The school is a member of the Rugby Group, the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference, and the G20 Schools' Group. Originally for boys only, the school is now coeducational, with some 550 boys and 220 girls.

Stowe School
MK18 5EH
Coordinates52.0326°N 1.0190°W / 52.0326; -1.0190
TypeIndependent school, day & boarding
MottoLatin: Persto et Praesto
("I stand firm and I stand first")
Religious affiliation(s)Church of England
Local authorityBuckinghamshire
Department for Education URN110548 Tables
Chairman of governorsSimon Creedy-Smith[1]
HeadmasterAnthony Wallersteiner[2][3]
Age13 to 18
Houses13 boarding houses
PublicationThe Stoic
Former pupilsOld Stoics

The school has been based since its beginnings at Stowe House, formerly the country seat of the Dukes of Buckingham and Chandos. Along with many of the other buildings on the school's estate, the main house is now a Grade I Listed Building and is maintained by the Stowe House Preservation Trust.


Stowe School opened with its first 99 pupils, mainly aged 13, on 11 May 1923. There were two boarding Houses, Bruce and Temple, then both in the western part of the mansion. The following term Grenville and Chandos Houses were formed in the eastern wing, with Cobham and Grafton following soon afterwards as further parts of the house were converted into accommodation and classrooms. Chatham was the first purpose-built house, designed by the school's first architect, Sir Clough Williams-Ellis. He had been instrumental in developing a vision for saving Stowe as a new centre of learning to match its crucial role in national culture and politics of the 18th Century. He had personally bought Stowe Avenue in 1922 before old Etonians presented it as birthday gift to the new school in 1924.

Helped by Harry Shaw, who had bought the estate the previous year, the new school succeeded in saving Stowe House and landscape gardens from demolition at their sale in October 1922. The school boasted a double foundation. Edward Montauban chaired the preparatory school committee seeking to found a new leading public school after the First World War and was the first to envisage the new school at Stowe. The finance came later through the Rev. Percy Warrington and the Martyrs Memorial Trust, giving rise to the group of Allied Schools.[4]

J. F. Roxburgh was Stowe's founding Headmaster. His aim was to produce a modern public school concentrating on the individual, without the unpleasantness of fagging or arcane names then common in other schools. Instead, he sought to instil a new ethos enthused with the beauty of Stowe's unique environment where the best of traditional education would be tempered by liberal learning and every pupil would "know beauty when he sees it all his life". Pupils and staff would relate in a civilized and open way, showing confidence and respect based on Christian values. Such was Roxburgh's success in developing this vision that he was recognized as a formative figure in 20th-century English education, "greater than Arnold" in Gavin Maxwell's words, who was a pupil at the school.[5]

Stowe's early success led to its rapid expansion. Walpole House was added in 1934 and the school reached 500 pupils by 1935. The art school, sports pavilion, and staff housing date from this period too, when the Legal & General Company provided financial support during the recession. Stowe made rapid progress academically too; in 1939 Charles Graves commented in the Daily Mail that "nearly 60% of the boys go to Oxford or Cambridge, which is said to be a higher percentage than that of any other public school". Teachers included T. H. White, author of The Once and Future King, and the Marxist historian George Rudé. Among sporting feats Old Stoic Bernard Gadney captained England's rugby team to take the triple crown in 1936, while in the early 1930s Laddie Lucas and John Langley were both national boy golf champions while still in Grenville House, helped by the golf course originally laid out in 1924. Sir Robert Lorimer's magnificent Chapel was opened in 1929 by Prince George, while in 1933, on the school's 10th anniversary, the Prince of Wales launched the repair of the garden buildings with the restoration of the Queen's Temple as a Music School.

The Second World War saw 270 Old Stoics killed in active service. There were also 242 decorations. These included the Victoria Cross for two former contemporaries in Chatham House, Major Jack Anderson and Wing Commander Leonard Cheshire, the later founder of the Cheshire Homes.


The school's cricket ground is used as a first class ground by Northamptonshire CCC.

The Stowe Corner of Silverstone Circuit is named after the school.[6]

A Southern Railway "Schools Class" steam locomotive, No. 928, which was built in 1934 was named after the school, and is preserved at the Bluebell Railway in East Sussex.[7]

In 2016, a Daily Telegraph investigator posing as a parent of a Russian pupil was told by the then school registrar that whilst pupils would always be expected to pass the entrance exam, it would help secure a place if a borderline child's parents were able to donate "about £100,000 or something like that."[8]

Boarding houses

There are 13 boarding houses: 8 boy houses, 4 girl houses and 1 mixed Sixth Form house. These boarding houses are mostly named after members of the family of Duke of Buckingham and Chandos. Each house has a number or letter assigned to it.

NameNamed AfterHouse Number/Letter
BruceLady Mary Bruce (1710–1738), the daughter of Charles Bruce, 4th Earl of Elgin, and the wife of Henry Brydges, 2nd Duke of Chandos.1
TempleRichard Temple, 1st Viscount Cobham; Earl Temple2
GrenvilleGeorge Grenville, the husband of Hester Temple, 1st Countess Temple, mother of Richard Grenville-Temple, 2nd Earl Temple, and sister of Richard Temple, 1st Viscount Cobham3
ChandosDuke of Buckingham and Chandos; Richard Temple-Nugent-Brydges-Chandos-Grenville, 1st Duke of Buckingham and Chandos4
CobhamViscount Cobham;Richard Temple, 1st Viscount Cobham5
ChathamWilliam Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham, husband of Hester Grenville, sister of Richard Grenville-Temple, 2nd Earl Temple6
GraftonThere is no known family connection, the name coming from the local fox hunt, the Grafton Hunt, which takes its name in turn from the Duke of Grafton. Grafton also has a history of supplying the Stowe Beagles with talented Masters and Hunt Staff, many of whom have continued to become Masters of packs around the Country.7
WalpoleThis is not a family name. Named after Horace Walpole, who wrote some famous letters about his visits to Stowe in the 18th century. It was his father, Robert Walpole, who was the more notable Walpole in Britain's and Stowe's history, however. Viscount Cobham's political life started under Walpole but his subsequent opposition to him led Cobham to found a political dynasty that played a major part in politics until Victorian times (producing four Prime Ministers). To be named "Nugent" originally.8
Nugent (Girls)Lady Mary Nugent, daughter of Robert Nugent, 1st Earl Nugent, married to George Nugent-Temple-Grenville, 1st Marquess of Buckingham. Nugent was originally the 'waiting house' that some new boys entered until their preferred house had a space.N
Lyttelton (Girls – formerly Boys)Baron Lyttelton,succeeded to the Viscounty of Cobham since Charles George Lyttelton, 5th Baron Lyttelton, after the death of the Richard Plantagenet Campbell Temple-Nugent-Brydges-Chandos-Grenville, 3rd Duke of Buckingham and Chandos, and into which title the Barony is now merged. Originally "Stanhope House", which became the Careers, International, and Skills Development departments of the school. Named after Lady Hester Stanhope, niece of William Pitt the Younger, who was the niece of Richard Grenville-Temple, 2nd Earl Temple0
Queen's (Girls)Opened in September 2007 and officially opened by the Queen in November 2007 and thus named after her.A
Stanhope (Girls)Opened in May 2009 and officially opened by Sir Nicholas Winton.B
West (Mixed)[9]Opened in September 2014 as a Sixth Form House.W
Winton (Boys)Opened in September 2019 as a day house for boys. Named after Sir Nicholas Winton.9
Cheshire (Girls)Opened in September 2019 as a day house for girls. Named after Leonard Cheshire.C


  • 1923–1949: J. F. Roxburgh
  • 1949–1958: Eric Reynolds
  • 1958–1964: Donald Crichton-Miller
  • 1964–1979: Robert Drayson
  • 1979–1989: Christopher Turner
  • 1989–2003: Jeremy Nichols
  • 2003– : Anthony Wallersteiner

Notable alumni

Former pupils of Stowe School are known as Old Stoics. Sir Richard Branson is currently the President of the Old Stoic Society.[10] Old Stoics include:

Notable masters

Cricket ground

The first recorded match on the school cricket ground came in 1928 when Stowe School played St Paul's School.[14] Buckinghamshire played their first Minor Counties Championship match there in 1947, when the opponents were Berkshire. Between 1947 and 1982 the ground held five Minor Counties Championship matches, the last of which saw Buckinghamshire draw against Bedfordshire.[15] The ground has also hosted a single MCCA Knockout Trophy match which saw Buckinghamshire play Bedfordshire.[16]

The ground has also held a single List A match for Northamptonshire in the 2005 totesport League, against Gloucestershire.[17] and has held fourteen Second XI fixtures for the Northamptonshire Second XI in the Second XI Championship and Second XI Trophy.[18][19]

In the Channel 4 comedy Fresh Meat, students JP, Ralph, Giles, Toby and Sykes are all Old Stoics.

In the 2014 spoof documentary series The Life of Rock with Brian Pern and Brian Pern, a Life in Rock, Brian Pern and his fellow band members in the progressive rock group Thotch are depicted as having met at Stowe School.

Stowe School was described by the Tatler Schools Guide of 2018 as "stonkingly, perennially popular."[20]

The 2018 motion picture Slaughterhouse Rulez was written and directed by Old Stoic Crispin Mills and was filmed at Stowe School.[21]

See also

Further reading

  • Alasdair MacDonald, Stowe: House and School, London: W. S. Cowell, 1951


  1. "Stowe School – Staff Directory". Archived from the original on 13 October 2018. Retrieved 30 May 2017.
  2. "URN 110548 Stowe School". Edubase/DfE. Archived from the original on 26 August 2016. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  3. "Stowe School – Headmaster's Introduction". Archived from the original on 16 July 2017. Retrieved 30 May 2017.
  4. W. A. Evershed, Party and Patronage in the Church of England 1800–1945, D. Phil. thesis, Oxford University,1985, gives a detailed and well-referenced account of the questionable methods employed by Warrington.
  5. Outrageous Fortune: Growing Up at Leeds Castle By Anthony Russell
  6. Archived 29 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  7. "Bluebell Railway Locomotives – Stowe". Archived from the original on 13 January 2017. Retrieved 21 January 2017.
  8. Claire Newell; Luke Heighton; Edward Malnick; Camilla Turner (9 December 2016). "The inside story:How to buy a place at a top school". Daily Telgraph. Archived from the original on 7 March 2017. Retrieved 6 March 2017.
  9. "Stowe School – West". Stowe School. Archived from the original on 25 August 2017. Retrieved 24 August 2017.
  10. "Old Stoics have birthday Teese". London Evening Standard. 15 October 2013. Archived from the original on 23 October 2016. Retrieved 23 October 2016.
  11. Witherow, John, ed. (21 June 2018). "Obituary – Reg Gadney". The Times (72567). p. 54. ISSN 0140-0460.
  12. Denis Greenhill (11 April 1992). "Obituary: Sir Peter Hayman". The Independent. Retrieved 2 July 2014.
  13. "Stowe House 1". Antiques Roadshow. Series 35. Episode 13. 22 February 2013. BBC. Archived from the original on 10 January 2013. Retrieved 19 March 2013.
  14. Other matches played on Stowe School Ground Archived 4 April 2016 at the Wayback Machine.
  15. Minor Counties Championship Matches played on Stowe School Ground Archived 5 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine.
  16. Minor Counties Trophy Matches played on Stowe School Ground Archived 5 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine. (7 August 1983).
  17. List-A Matches played on Stowe School Ground Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine. (19 June 2005)
  18. Second XI Championship Matches played on Stowe School Ground Archived 4 April 2016 at the Wayback Machine.
  19. Second XI Trophy Matches played on Stowe School Ground Archived 4 April 2016 at the Wayback Machine.
  20. "Stowe School". Archived from the original on 5 May 2018. Retrieved 4 May 2018.
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.